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Tenet's turn to talk

George Tenet Ex-CIA Chief At the Center of the Storm Book 2007 Bush Administration

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#1 Spectacles

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 07:41 AM

I detest George Tenet. He's the classic, suck-up bureaucrat, but what I find particularly galling is that he didn't have the cojones to throw a monkey wrench into the rush to a war that he now indicates he *knew* was being justified on shaky evidence and without sufficient debate.

He retired, got his little medal of honor, and now he's decided his feelings are hurt because he was made the "scapegoat" by the Bush Administration for the Iraq War. So he's written a tell-all that apparently lands some hard punches on Cheney and his merry band of neoconservatives in the administration, who he says were hellbent on war regardless.

http://www.nytimes.c...agewanted=print

Quote

Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq
By SCOTT SHANE and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON, April 26 — George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a “serious debate” about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States.

The 549-page book, “At the Center of the Storm,” is to be published by HarperCollins on Monday. By turns accusatory, defensive, and modestly self-critical, it is the first detailed account by a member of the president’s inner circle of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the decision to invade Iraq and the failure to find the unconventional weapons that were a major justification for the war.

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment that is likely to be debated for many years. Nor, he adds, “was there ever a significant discussion” about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion.


Mr. Tenet admits that he made his famous “slam dunk” remark about the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But he argues that the quote was taken out of context and that it had little impact on President Bush’s decision to go to war. He also makes clear his bitter view that the administration made him a scapegoat for the Iraq war.

A copy of the book was purchased at retail price in advance of publication by a reporter for The New York Times. Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of “Meet the Press” last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

“I remember watching and thinking, ‘As if you needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to convince you to go to war with Iraq,’ ” Mr. Tenet writes.

As violence in Iraq spiraled beginning in late 2003, Mr. Tenet writes, “rather than acknowledge responsibility, the administration’s message was: Don’t blame us. George Tenet and the C.I.A. got us into this mess.”



Quote

But Mr. Tenet largely endorses the view of administration critics that Mr. Cheney and a handful of Pentagon officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq as a threat in late 2001 and 2002 even as Mr. Tenet and the C.I.A. concentrated mostly on Al Qaeda.

Quote

Mr. Tenet hints at some score-settling in the book. He describes in particular the extraordinary tension between him and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, in internal debate over how the president came to say erroneously in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.


Quote

He writes that the controversy over who was to blame for the State of the Union error was the beginning of the end of his tenure. After the finger-pointing between the White House and the C.I.A., he wrote, “My relationship with the administration was forever changed.”

Quote

Mr. Tenet also says in the book that he had been “not at all sure I wanted to accept” the Medal of Freedom. He agreed after he saw that the citation “was all about the C.I.A.’s work against terrorism, not Iraq.”

Mighty big of him.  :rolleyes:

He also expresses skepticism about whether the increase in troops in Iraq will prove successful. “It may have worked more than three years ago,” he wrote. “My fear is that sectarian violence in Iraq has taken on a life of its own and that U.S. forces are becoming more and more irrelevant to the management of that violence.”

Quote

Mr. Tenet says he decided to write the memoir in part because the infamous “slam dunk” episode had come to define his tenure at C.I.A.

He gives a detailed account of the episode, which occurred during an Oval Office meeting in December 2002 when the administration was preparing to make public its case for war against Iraq.

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”


Quote

The book recounts C.I.A. efforts to fight Al Qaeda in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mr. Tenet’s early warnings about Osama bin Laden. He contends that the urgent appeals of the C.I.A. on terrorism received a lukewarm reception at the Bush White House through most of 2001.

“The bureaucracy moved slowly,” and only after the Sept. 11 attacks was the C.I.A. given the counterterrorism powers it had requested earlier in the year.

This last bit really interests me the most, and I have actually been curious to hear Tenet address this. Richard Clarke was vilified by the right for saying the same thing. We now have Tenet joining Clarke, and virtually everyone connected with intelligence in the months prior to 9/11 saying that they couldn't get the Bush Administration to take seriously the threat of an Al Qaeda attack that intelligence thought was surely on its way. As Clarke said, the intelligence community's "hair was on fire" in the summer of 2001. By September 11, the Pentagon, the WTC, and a field in Western PA were on fire.

Edited by Spectacles, 27 April 2007 - 07:46 AM.

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#2 G1223

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 07:51 AM

Well to throw any blame off himself the man would say anything. After all he was a holdover from the Clinton admistration. He was among those that led to ramp up to the 1998 face off with Saddam. Tenat was among those who told us in 98 that Saddam was working to get WMD. He and Madine Albright were those leading the charge at getting the UN to support the action.

So remember the whole story about WMD were all made up in the Bush adminisrtation. The ones the Clinton administration said were there were real I guess.
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#3 Zwolf

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 08:52 AM

I knew a guy in high school whose last name was Tenet.  He was a fairly decent, honorable guy.

Probably no relation.

This dude's slimy.  His chance to be a hero about this war is long past.  If he'd told what he knew then, he might've been something.  Telling it now, though, just makes him an even bigger weasel.  I guess he thinks he can use the American public as a priest and confess and absolve him of sin.  Nope... too much blood on his hands to wash off at this point.  This guy, just by not speaking up, helped kill more Americans than Bin Laden.

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#4 G1223

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 08:58 AM

This is the one guy who led two administration into thinking Saddam had WMD.
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#5 Spectacles

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:11 AM

And there's this blast from the past. Here's Bush's inevitable "heckuva job" on the occasion of Tenet's resignation:

http://www.washingto...6-2004Jun3.html

Quote

"He told me he was resigning for personal reasons," Bush said. "I told him I'm sorry he's leaving. He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people."

Speaking to reporters briefly before leaving on a trip to Europe, Bush said Tenet would give way in July to the current CIA deputy director, John E. McLaughlin, who will take over as acting director. Bush did not indicate who would be Tenet's permanent successor.

"George Tenet is the kind of public servant you like to work with," Bush said. "He's strong, he's resolute, he's served his nation as the director for seven years. . . . He's been a strong leader in the war on terror, and I will miss him."

Tenet, according to this article on his book, actually speaks kindly of Bush, but apparently he saw Cheney and his crew as hellbent on war. Of course, Tenet still gave his bosses what he thought they wanted though he now expresses reservations.

I don't understand why he and Powell don't just shut up and stop trying to distance themselves from this administration now when it's too late to do the country any good or to repair the lasting damage to their reputations.

I will never, ever forget the sight of Tenet perched behind Powell when Powell gave his presentation on Saddam's WMD to the UN--a presentation that we later found out Powell had great reservations about. How do these people sleep at night?
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#6 Godeskian

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:37 AM

View PostG1223, on Apr 27 2007, 02:58 PM, said:

This is the one guy who led two administration into thinking Saddam had WMD.

Maybe, but he only led ONE of them into launching an invasion. And it wasn't Clinton.

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#7 G1223

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 11:53 AM

Well Clinton by his own words was led to believe that Iraq had those weapons. So we might have found who started the ball rolling to war. It was a scheme for theCIA to be top dog in the Intell community by spinning facts.
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#8 Cait

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 02:05 PM

One of the things I often forget is that whistle blowers are often complicit in what they are blowing the whistle on.. We want our whistle blowers to be find upstanding sorts of people so we can trust what they say, but usually they are as tainted as Tenet is now and Daniel Ellsberg appeared to be back when he leaked the "Pentagon Papers".  John Dean had a better public perception during the Watergate hearings [unless you listen to my mom] and Sibel Edmonds  seems to have escaped being burned in effigy by the Press.  But generally, the people we usually need to expose a cover up or conspiracy are part of the same conspiracy.  It's there nature of the beast.

While we can all look at Tenet and say "slimy", it doesn't mean he's not telling the truth.  Like any good prosecutor you look to corroborate his version of the events.  We're never going to get an accurate version from someone with completely clean hands.  No one is going to discover the "smoking gun" through regular investigative channels.  It will all hinge on someone becoming a state witness in exchange for immunity or a better deal.  It will be someone with dirty hands.

Using the character of a whistle blower as a way to discredit his account, is nonsense.  You don't take it at face value, you look to other accounts and evidence, but you don't look at the evidence s/he presents in terms of his character.  We're not going to be getting information form anyone with "good character".

There was a famous case here is LA back in the late 60's.  Perhaps you heard of it.  The Manson Case.  The entire case rested on the testimony of one of the participants--Linda Kasabian.  Without her, the case would have been circumstantial at best for the girls and whatshisname, but Manson himself would have never been convicted without her testimony.  Her hands were dirty, but the State needed her to make the case.

I'm not saying that this is like a criminal case on the level of Manson, but the philosophy remains true nevertheless--To get to the bottom of this we'll hear from some people with VERY dirty hands.  They are the ones with the information.  Their former colleagues will call them traitor and we will use them to get to the truth.  That's just reality.

Do we weigh the truthfulness people like this offer?  Yes.  But to discount testimony because a person is not of high moral character is just as silly because without accomplices turning on their partners in crime, we'd never be able to make  a lot of cases.

To say [as G suggests] that Tenet has his own agenda, is of course correct, but that still doesn't mean he is lying.  Any good Defense Lawyer would spin his version in exactly the same manner.  

Taken alone his version is questionable because of his history, but taken in context it takes on more credibility.  Only time will tell what the truth is, if we ever even find out.

Just thought I'd throw all that out there...

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#9 Spectacles

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 03:14 PM

Quote

Cait: To get to the bottom of this we'll hear from some people with VERY dirty hands. They are the ones with the information. Their former colleagues will call them traitor and we will use them to get to the truth. That's just reality.

Do we weigh the truthfulness people like this offer? Yes. But to discount testimony because a person is not of high moral character is just as silly because without accomplices turning on their partners in crime, we'd never be able to make a lot of cases.

Very good point, Cait, and an important point to consider. To clarify, I detest Tenet and I resent his deciding to unburden himself NOW when his speaking up when he was, oh, Director of the CIA might actually have helped to stop us from going to war. In fairness, though, Tenet was possibly caught up in a tide that he may not have had the perspective to see clearly at that time. I'd hope for a bit more objectivity and perception on the part of the CIA director, but that's probably naive on my part.

He may well be telling the truth now. In fact, he probably is since much of what he says seems to corroborate what others have said. The problem is, he has a major credibility problem now thanks to his toadiness during the run-up to the war. Still he seems to be saying now what others have said about Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the other ideologues who ran their own intelligence operation to glean info from the Iraqi exiles to bolster the case for war. So there is considerable corroboration for what he's saying. However, the problem is he's a very flawed messenger. Another problem is he really, really should have had the sense to grab a whistle and blow it like crazy before we invaded Iraq. So should have Powell.

Despite my fury at both of them, on some level, I feel sorry for them. The Iraq War makes ME sick, and I had nothing to do with enabling it to happen. I cannot imagine how those who did feel now. I'm sure they thought they were doing the right thing. But "the right thing" has to depend on more than the questionable testimonies of exiles like the CIA-discredited "Curveball." And "the right thing" needs to be based on clear evidence, not suspicion, not gut-feeling. That's something that the ideologues in the administration seem not to have understood. (God help, Cheney still doesn't seem to get it.) And the non-ideologues, who *knew* that much of the "evidence" was trumped-up decided to be loyal to their bosses in the administration and forgot that their real bosses are the American people.

So we're left with a huge problem with no easy solution, one that has cost us thus far over 3300 American lives and around 300 allied lives. We have a keystone country in the Mideast roiling and about to split apart. And we're damned if we leave and damned if
we stay. Tenet played a role in our getting into this, and mainly I'd just like to see him sit and flog himself until Doomsday for it.  :(

Edited by Spectacles, 27 April 2007 - 03:15 PM.

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#10 Cait

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 03:33 PM

Oh I agree with the reason for your ire at Tenet.  

I think my heart broke when Colin Powel admitted he had made a mistake in his speech before the UN.  I thought so highly of him and in my eyes, his reputation can't be recovered.  These men allowed politics and their inability to stand up to the "hawks", and led thousands of people to their death.  This is not an "Oops!  Nevermind" moment.

I just wanted to interject that even though they are traitors [an illegal war, and the deaths that have resulted and will result], they are all we have as a resource to find out what happened in too many cases.

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Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.

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http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html


#11 Nittany Lioness

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 09:22 AM

Specs writes:
" ... a presentation that we later found out Powell had great reservations about."

Hmm, wait a minute - was this established as fact?  My understanding is this was a robust false rumor centered on him allegedly shouting: "I'm not saying that!"
I've seen subsequent interviews with him after he left office, and he consistently indicates that though no WMD were found, he thought the invasion was sound based on the intelligence and pattern of behavior at the time.
He himself actually said he had reservations about his speech?

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#12 offworlder

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 12:06 PM

oh so now he says the slam dunk thing was about something else (can anyone in that room call him the lie for it?) ~ he just wants to have his whinging say, and it's in book form to get a profit, and he will get a profit because every 'known' person, or half-celeb name, puts out a book, gets some amount of profit, those always sell a bit more than novels of any but the very top novelists.
~ the thing that gets me is that he was both given a medal of freedom _and_ made some kind of scapegoat??

I won't buy the book, but I bet every library in the nation will , hhrrmmpphh
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#13 Lin731

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 12:46 PM

I love how Tenet wants to rewrite his part in the mess. He's not getting a dime from me. His book may well shed some light on the inner workings and motivations of the administration but I doubt it's anything most people haven't already speculated about. The most interesting parts will make it online anyway.
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#14 Spectacles

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 01:16 PM

View PostNittany Lioness, on Apr 28 2007, 10:22 AM, said:

Specs writes:
" ... a presentation that we later found out Powell had great reservations about."

Hmm, wait a minute - was this established as fact?  My understanding is this was a robust false rumor centered on him allegedly shouting: "I'm not saying that!"
I've seen subsequent interviews with him after he left office, and he consistently indicates that though no WMD were found, he thought the invasion was sound based on the intelligence and pattern of behavior at the time.
He himself actually said he had reservations about his speech?

Well, he sure did prior to giving it. According to U.S. News and World Report, after pouring over the first draft with intelligence, who couldn't corroborate much of what Cheney and his crew wanted him to say, Powell threw several pages in the air and said, "I'm not saying this. This is bullsh*t."

http://posaz.mysite....k/b*llsh*t.html

To give Powell *some* credit, he and his staff cross-checked and edited and whittled down the original material he was handed to cut out the more outlandish and obviously unsubstantiated stuff. But he did keep some things he had reservations about. Apparently, he was so uncomfortable about the Saddam-Al Qaeda stuff he tried to "bury" it at the end of the speech.

And Powell said, after leaving office, that this speech was "a blot" on his record.

http://abcnews.go.co...?...5979&page=1

Quote

When Powell left the Bush administration in January 2005, he was widely seen as having been at odds with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney over foreign policy choices.

It was Powell who told the United Nations and the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat. He told Walters that he feels "terrible" about the claims he made in that now-infamous address — assertions that later proved to be false.

When asked if he feels it has tarnished his reputation, he said, "Of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."

He goes on to say that he didn't blame Tenet, who according to some accounts Powell insisted sit behind him while he gave the speech. His thinking was that if Tenet was clearing this stuff, then he wanted Tenet to walk out there on that limb with him--which is another indication that Powell had doubts about at least some of the WMD "proof" he presented.

And Powell's former aide, Larry Wilkerson, has openly said that his participation in preparing Powell's speech was "the lowest point in my life."

http://www.cnn.com/2...8/19/powell.un/

Quote

Tuesday, August 23, 2005; Posted: 10:44 a.m. EDT (14:44 GMT)

(CNN) -- A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state's presentation to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "the lowest point" in his life.

"I wish I had not been involved in it," says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."

Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN Presents documentary "Dead Wrong -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." The program pieced together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be "dead wrong."

Powell's speech, delivered on February 5, 2003, made the case for the war by presenting U.S. intelligence that purported to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson says the information in Powell's presentation initially came from a document he described as "sort of a Chinese menu" that was provided by the White House.

"(Powell) came through the door ... and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, 'This is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'" Wilkerson says in the program. "It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#15 Spectacles

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 07:30 AM

Tenet is supposed to be on 60 Minutes tonight and Larry King Live tomorrow night as he promotes his book.

Like former Secretary Paul O'Neill and other former Bush Administration figures, he's come out and said that Iraq was a prime target of this administration from the moment it took office.

http://www.al.com/ne...e....xml&coll=2
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#16 Nittany Lioness

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 11:08 AM

Thanks for digging that up.
The wannado site I can't access, but I get the idea.  US News and World Report.  :)
I still don't quite believe the idea that he felt he had a gun to his head and blew up.
The "according to some accounts" as "indications" leaves me unconvinced.
Both he and Wilkerson I'm sure feel, now, it's a blot on their record but that's not the same claim quite.
And btw, that menu-type paper was referred to "initially", implying Powell and his staff got to review the more original source intell docs eventually.

And I wonder if some measure of top gov't tense attitudes in creating presentations and pouring over important points isn't business as usual.  I bet every secretary, president and spokesman has yelled:  "I'm not saying that!" :)
and ultimately plastered on a smile, marched out and spoke the consensus anyway.

Edited by Nittany Lioness, 29 April 2007 - 11:10 AM.

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#17 Hibblette

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 11:16 AM

The truth shall said you free.

Or as Iolaus said in a Herc ep-The tooth will set you free.

Hey-this is probably just the beginning...more and more are going to jump ship.
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#18 dogmand

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 11:37 AM

"To give Powell *some* credit, he and his staff cross-checked and edited and whittled down the original material he was handed to cut out the more outlandish and obviously unsubstantiated stuff. But he did keep some things he had reservations about. Apparently, he was so uncomfortable about the Saddam-Al Qaeda stuff he tried to "bury" it at the end of the speech.

And Powell said, after leaving office, that this speech was "a blot" on his record."


I love talking about my BroVet Major Powell (errr...excuse me, General Powell).  He's an intelligent, resourceful, guy.  We served in the Americal Div. at the same time, in different sections.  However, he was a new guy, and arrived after the fact.  He does seem to have a knack for landing in the middle of some deep doodoo, though.  Check it out.  

http://www.thenation...14/corn20010502

And then, there was this little Iran-Contra hubbub, which is rather interesting given the situation today.  

http://www.consortiu...chive/colin6.ht

I happen to like the guy, but disagree with his politics.

#19 SparkyCola

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 11:48 AM

Quote

Or as Iolaus said in a Herc ep-The tooth will set you free.

:D Iolaus :love:

Sparky

Edited by SparkyCola, 29 April 2007 - 11:48 AM.

Able to entertain a thought without taking it home to meet the parents

#20 G1223

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 12:57 PM

The fact is that we do not know when the CIA got any new informnation. You must remember that Tenet was the CIA director duruing the Clinton Administration. And during his time with the Clinton's he was one of the leaders in the administration along with Sec. State Albright who told us in 1998 about the WMD which we now know are incorrect. They went to UN with this same information and NO SINGLE NATION OR GOVERNMENT AGENCY said the info was incorrect.

Yet we were lied to? That maybe true. But when were we lied to.

Edited by G1223, 29 April 2007 - 12:58 PM.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: George Tenet, Ex-CIA Chief, At the Center of the Storm, Book, 2007, Bush Administration

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